OK. This is actually a blog post on St. Patrick. Well, why not? My name is Kelley, after all, which was my mother’s maiden name, so it is a family surname. Yep. I’ve got some serious Irish in my blood, so I have to know a little bit about my roots. And St. Patrick is Ireland’s patron saint. He spread Christianity all through the country back in the 5th century.
So, this guy St. Patrick was actually born Maewyn Succat in Britain around 386 A.D. He took on the name Patrick later after he got really involved in his Christian work. We really don’t know all that much about him, though. His father and grandfather were apparently both members of the clergy, but he wasn’t raised with a strong emphasis on religion. I know. Sounds weird, right? His parents didn’t even stress education all that much either. That kind of embarrassed him later in his life.
When he was 16 years old he was captured by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. His job was to tend sheep. His owner was a high priest of Druidism, the sect of paganism that had huge influence over the country at that time. Strangely enough, during his six years as a slave Patrick became more and more devoted to Christianity. He even had a vision where he saw the children of Ireland reaching out to him. As a result he grew more and more determined to convert the Irish to Christianity. His dreams didn’t stop there, though. In another one he got the idea of escaping, and sur enough, he managed to talk some sailors into letting him get onboard their ship. Problem was, after three days of sailing they had to abandon ship somewhere near France, and wandered around lost for almost a month. In that month they covered almost 200 miles of territory, and Patrick was eventually reunited with his family.
Patrick next went back to France, this time to study and enter the priesthood. He always wanted to return to Ireland, and in 432 he was commissioned as a missionary to Ireland. After some initial resistance, he and his fellow missionaries finally made significant inroads into the country through preaching, writing, and performing countless baptisms. One of Patrick’s strengths came in his ability to recognize spiritual practices already in place, and incorporate the nature-oriented pagan rituals into church practices. Many believe that it was Patrick who introduced the Celtic cross that combines the native symbolism involving sun worship with the Christian cross.
OK. Here is the part you were wondering about. There have been many legends that are associated with his life as well. One is that he introduced the idea of the Holy Trinity in his teaching by using the three-leaved shamrock. Pretty ingenious, if you ask me. Of course that part of the teaching got lost in the mix and now it is just seen as a symbol of good luck. And of course, the best known legend is that of St. Patrick driving away all the snakes from the country. I always wondered his he managed that one.
So St. Patrick’s day is March 17th, the traditional date of his death. The traditional way to celebrate the religious holiday is to attend church in the morning, and then head out to a traditional meal of cabbage and Irish bacon. Can’t beat bacon. Of course, like so many originally religious holidays, St. Patrick’s Day in the West has become more of a cultural, secular celebration of culture and heritage … all things Irish.
Top o’ the mornin’ to ye!
Psalms 37:28 says, “For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.”
Father, thank you for guys like young Maewyn, who overcame some significant hurdles to follow you. Inspiring stuff. Amen.